2007 World Figure Skating Championships

Tokyo, Japan


Ladies Report     Men's Report    Pairs Report    Dance Report

Follow these links to event reports.



Sunday, 25 March

Exhibition start at 3 PM today.  It is now 10:30 AM and raining cats and dogs.  No sightseeing today!

Saturday, 24 March

Ladies final this evening and then we are all done!

Well, this is a podium few would have predicted.  Yes, all three of these ladies were thought to have had a shot at a medal, but for all three to come through was a surprise.  Carolina Kostner led of the last warm-up, and gave up her spot on the podium (she was third in the Short Program) by falling on her first jump element -- and it was mainly downhill from there.  Kostner was followed by Hughes who also had a lackluster skate and placed 13th in the long and 9th overall.  Third to skate was Yu-Na Kim, who landed her opening triple-triple combination, but later fell on both attempts at triple Lutz.  This opened the door to subsequent skaters, including Kimmie Meissner who trailed by the equivalent of two triple jumps after the Short Program.

Mao Asada skated next.  She opened with triple Axel, which she two-footed.  The rest of the skate was strong, and she won the Free Skate but placed second overall.  The -1 GoE on the triple Axel cost her a point, less than the margin of victory of Ando.

Meissner had her chance to win, or at least medal after Kim had missed her two Lutzes, if she skated a clean program.  But a poor landing on her opening triple Lutz, cost her the triple-triple combination.  Several other minor errors added to her woes, and she came away from the event third in the Free Skate and fourth overall.

Last to skate was Miki Ando, who was second in the short program.  She too did not have a perfect skate, but she landed her opening triple-triple and was strong enough to place second in the Free Skate and win the ladies title.

Alissa Czisny struggled with her jumps, but skated well enough otherwise to move up to twelfth in the Free Skate (from eighteenth in the Short Program) to twelfth overall.

With the close of the Championships, this has not been a spectacular Worlds for the U.S., with only Belbin & Agosto's coming away with a medal.  (Which, of course, is one more than for the Russians!)

Noticed in the marks -

The marks for judge 7 are clearly higher than the rest of the panel for Asada, Ando and Nakano, and clearly lower than the rest of the panel for Meissner.  Judge 7 also gave Asada a +3 GoE for her Two-Footed triple Axel!  Could judge 7 be the Japanese judge?  Same for judge 1 being higher than the rest of the panel for Rochette.  The Canadian judge perhaps?  Could these be two examples of (Oh My!) national bias?

Official attendance today was 6850.

Friday, 23 March

Busy day today.  We have an early start with the first half of the Ladies Short Program, followed by the Dance Free Dance.  Then we comeback to finish up the Ladies Short Program.

Albena Denkova & Maxim Staviski defended their World title by winning the Free dance. Their margin of victory was 1.15 points over Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon, who were second in the Free Dance.  Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto held on for the silver medal.  After their performance Belbin expected they would not medal, and had changed her cloths and was waiting for the bus back to the hotel, when she was called back for the victory ceremony.  They were fourth in the Free Dance, but captured the bronze medal by 0.24 points. Isabell Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder place third in the Free Dance for a fourth place finihs, while Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin faded to fifth in the Free Dance and fifth overall.

In the Ladies Short Program Yu-Na Kim had an outstanding skate, to open up a 3.97 point lead.  Second in the short was Miki Anso, who also had an excellent skate.  Returning after a difficult season last year, Carolina Kostner was strong and secure in her performance to place third.  Kimmie Meissner placed fourth, and trails the leaders by less than three points.  She is still within striking distance for a medal.  For the gold, however, she is 7.28 points back.  Equivalent to about two triple jumps.  Mao Asada had a decent skate, but singling a loop in her combination jump cost her dearly, and put her well back in the medal chase.  Emily Hughes also had a decent skate, but is now only a long shot for a medal.  Alissa Czisny had major errors in all three jump elements and placed eighteenth, with no hope for a medal this year.

More Mathematical Trivia -

The two Ladies Short Program groups were skated with the Free Dance scheduled in between.  As was the case for the Men's Short Program, the distribution of marks for the ladies is bimodal, though not as strongly as for the men.  There is also about a 1/2 point discontinuity in the marks for the two groups.  Only one skater (Tugba Karademir) dropped down from the second group to be eliminated from the Free Skate.  All the skaters in the second half placed higher in Program Components than all but one skater in the first half.

The distribution of the marks in the two singles events can be compared to the distribution of marks in the Dance Compulsory Dance and Original Dance.  For those two event segments, 29 couples competed in a single group each time.  The Compulsory dance was a random draw, while the Original Dance was a partially random draw.  For both dances, the distribution of marks is NOT bimodal, and shows no statistical characteristics out of the ordinary.  This supports the conclusion that the odd distribution of marks in the singles short programs are the results of the process used to split and seed the groups.  More importantly, this means the results of the singles short programs were in part due to the method of conducting the event.  Wave goodbye to the fiction that results in IJS are not affected by the start order!

Official attendance today was 6820.

Thursday, 22 March

Dance OD and Men's final today.

In Dance we have a nice tight competition going, with the top three teams separated by only 0.5 points.  Denkova & Staviski pulled ahead in the Original dance, followed by Dubreuil & Lauzon.  Belbin & Agosto moved up to third with a second place result in the OD.  The third and four place teams (Delobel & Schoenfelder and Dominina & Shabalin are both in medal distance, up to 3.5 points back.  In the draw for the Free Dance panel, the judges from Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan where not selected.  Oh happy day for Belbin & Agosto.

In the Men's Free Skating Daisuke Takahashi thrilled the home crowd by winning the Free Skate and moving up to second overall.  Stephane Lambiel was second in the Free Skate for a third place finish, after placing sixth in the Short Program.  Brian Joubert faded to third in the Free Skate but held on to win on the strength of his Short Program.  Another example of the excessive importance the Short Program now plays in IJS.  Evan Lysacek again placed fifth, while Johnny Weir dropped to tenth in the Free Skating for an eighth place finish.

Jeffrey Buttle, who skated last and was second in the Short Program, placed eighth in the Free Skating for a sixth place finish.  He ended up over 18 points out of the medals.  An under-rotated attempt at a quad and two failed triple Axel attempts were the kiss of death for his medal hopes. Even worse now for Buttle, he can no longer rely on his strength in the Program Components to help bail him out of the lack of the big jumps.  He scored only fourth here in Program Components.

And for the numerically inclined -

So I was watching the marks for the men come up yesterday and I was struck by how most of the skaters were being marked in the fours in the first half of the event, with very little variation in the Program Components regardless of how good or poor the presentation was.

Then in the second half, the first skater out is in the mid sixes, and I'm thinking this is fishy.  How did we go from fours before the break to sixes after the break?

Looking back at the marks, indeed something is fishy.  All 21 men in the second half qualified for the Free Skating.  Only three skaters from the first half qualified, just the number needed to fill out the 24 allowed in the Free Skating.  Every skater in the second half had higher Program Components than every skater in the first half.  Rather than a single distribution of marks for all 42 skaters, there are two clear groups of marks, one for the first half and one for the second half.  Nine skaters got Program Components in the sevens, ten in the sixes, but only six in the fives.  Then there are thirteen with marks in the fours, and four in the threes.  In statistics this is known as a bimodal distribution, which is the mathematical term for something is fishy.  What is says to me is:

1.  The judges marked on two significantly different number scales for the two  groups, basically jumping up about 1.5 points in each Program Component from the first half to the second half.

2.  The judges were not able to maintain consistency of marking over the more than seven hours to complete the event.

3.  Knowing the groups were seeded by ranking and not randomly drawn, the judges fell into the mindset that the first group of skaters were all the worst skaters and thus automatically deserving of lower marks, and the second group were all the better skaters and thus automatically deserving of higher marks.

4.  This new method of dividing the groups does not provide a level playing field for the skaters in the lower group, denying them a fair chance to break out of the bottom group and make it to the Free Skating.

This is not going to affect who wins the medals, but it is immensely important to the skaters whose goal here is simply to make the final round, and for the federations whose goal here is to get a skater in the final round.  This situation illustrates the serious problems that still exist in calibrating the judges and getting them to use the system correctly, and is an insult to the up and coming skaters who want to be treated just as fairly as the established stars, but are not.

Official attendance today was 6,760.

Wednesday, 21 March

The skating word remains perplexed at whatever ISU president Cinquanta was thinking when he raised the issue that 2009 Worlds could be moved to a different location.  If broadcasters are not motivated at this time to purchase the U.S. rights with the event held in the U.S., why would they be more motivated if the event was held in another country?  Why would they care if the event is held in the U.S. or not?  All broadcasters care about is whether they can make money from broadcasting the event, and how much they can afford to pay and still make money.

Men's Short Program and Pairs Free Skating today.  There are 42 men entered.  They will skate in two groups, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  But these are not two separate elimination groups.  There will be one panel used and one set of 42 placements will be calculated.  The skaters have been seeded so that the best skaters are in the second half of the event, with the best skaters in the later warm-ups.  Men in the first half of the event have little chance of advancing to the final Free Skate.

The lepers were let out of their colony yesterday and allowed into the seating area.  It's really quite nice up there.  Unlike the frequent economy of space you find in Japan, the rows of seats are widely spaced with lots of leg room.  The floors are carpeted with the seats are padded and fabric covered.  No food and drink are allowed in the seating area.  Something one is reminded of with endless signage.  They are very fond of signage here.  Lots of signs everywhere covering every aspect of expected behavior in the arena.  In terms of lighting, however, the arena is a cave.  There are few concession strands, and a small number of vendors.

Only 11 sets of marks are to be found in the Pairs Short Program protocol from yesterday.  Turns out the Judge from China, missed his bus, got lost, and arrived after the vent had begun.  Oh, is he in trouble!  The event was scored with 11 judges.  Two judges were randomly dropped instead of three.  for the remaining nine judges the single trimmed mean was used.

The Men's SP was a grueling affair.  Brian Joubert has a 3.74 point lead, ahead of Jeffrey Buttle and Daisuke Takahashi.  Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek sit in fourth and fifth place back.  They are well back, but still have a chance for a medal.  Lysacek won 4C from 10.8 points back, but like at 4C, not only will he have to skate great, he will need a few bodies to fall down to get out of his way.  Nobunari Oda, a favorite for a medal coming into Worlds, popped his opening triple Axel, and in doing so lost any reasonable chance to medal.

In the pairs final the Chinese teams were first, second and fourth in the Free Skating.  Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy were third in the Free Skating and held on for the bronze medal.  The U.S. (and Canadian) teams were nowhere for this competition, though Castile & Okolski at least have a reason, with Castile being quite ill this week.

Marie Petrova & Alexi Tikhonov withdrew before the start of the Free Skate, citing "acute adductor syndrome" on Tikhoov's right leg.  However, cynics think all that is hurt is their pride.  (The adductor muscles are the muscles that go from the thigh bone to the pelvis, at the groin.)

During their warm-up, Mariusz Siudek injured his leg during a throw and the team had to withdraw.  This was to be their last performance and Dorata was in tears when they left the ice after the warm-up.  When their names were called to skate, there was animated discussion with their coach.  After a dramtic pause they went to center ice and made a farewell bow.  They then went to the Referee to withdraw from the event.

Official attendance today was 6,440.

Tuesday, 20 March

According to Pricilla Hill, Johnny Weir's music has not been edited since Nationals.  She and Johnny, however, have made extensive changes to the choreography.  Either the music has grown on me, or the new choreography has made a big difference in the impression created.  Marina Anissina was not mentioned.  She appears to be out of the picture for now.

Attendance at practice in the main arena was listed today as 2,900.  Since the place looked about half full, that would say a full house will be about 6,000.

Today is Compulsory dance and the Pairs Short Program.  Competition starts at noon, local time --  8 PM in the Pacific Coast.

The Thirteenth installment of the Ottavio show took place this morning (the ISU President's annual Worlds press conference).  ISU president Cinquanta looked aged and haggard, and was not his past animated self.  Little of consequence transpired, except for his response to a question about his views on the possibility figure skating in the U.S. might end up only distributed over the internet.

After answering the question and moving on, he then backtracked and returned to the question of the broadcasting of figure skating in the U.S., or it's lack.  He repeatedly referred to holding 2009 Worlds in Los Angeles as "provisional" and noted the importance of having a host broadcaster in place for a World Championships.  Though he did not explicitly mention Australia's loss of Worlds to France in 1999 due to the lack of a host broadcaster satisfactory to the ISU, the message was clear:  The ISU, he implied, wants a deal in place for a host broadcaster in 2009, and is willing to move Worlds if acceptable arrangements cannot be made.

But who is this threat aimed at?  Host broadcaster rights are contracted by the ISU, not the national federations.  If aimed at U.S. networks, moving Worlds does not seem a particularly useful threat for lining up a host broadcaster.  If U.S. broadcasters do not want the rights, what would they care if Worlds goes somewhere else.  It is no skin off their nose.  The current contract the ISU has with ESPN expires this year.  According to one ISU staffer here, ESPN has first right of refusal for renewal, but has yet to make an offer to the ISU.  ESPN would like another network to make an offer first and then ESPN would meet it if the price was right.  So for now, ESPN and the ISU seem to be playing a big game of chicken.

In the Compulsory Dance, Marie-France Dubeuil & Patrice Lauzon opened up a modest 1.54 lead.  The couples in places two through five are all within 0.25 points of each other, with Albena Denkova & Maxim Staviski in second, followed by Oksana Dominina & Maxim Shabalin (it is so helpful to be Russian in Dance), Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder, and Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto in fifth (and not so helpful to be American).  Meryl Davis & Charlie White placed tenth, pushing Melissa Gregory & Denis Petukhov out of the top ten and into eleventh place.

Xue Shen & Hongo Zhao took the lead in the pairs Short Program.  They are more than 3 points up over Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy of Germany.  Qing Pang & Jian Tong are currently third.  Teams in fourth place and below are 9 or more points back.

Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang got murdered on an error in their required lift.  Hoa over-rotated the lift which resulted in the lift being disallowed (no points), plus they received a two point deduction for an illegal element.  That probably cost them 6 places in the standings.  They are currently in tenth place, 14.07 points behind the leaders.  It seems a bit harsh that such a minor error would carry such a heavy penalty.  They are also 9.75 points outside of any medal.

For today's events, the arena looked to be about 1/2 - 2/3 full.  Official tally was 4050.

Monday, 19 March

2007 Worlds is ramping up, with the second day of practice before competition begins on Tuesday.  The Men's and Ladies Free Skating qualifying rounds are no more, and we are back were we started when we attended out first Worlds 21 years ago.  Back then everybody skated the Short Program and the top 20 went on to the Free Skating.  Then it was increased to 24.  As the number of entrants increased beyond manageability for a single group it was decided to add a qualifying round, to eliminate the lesser skilled skaters, but also to allow all entrants to skate their long program at least once at Worlds -- maybe their only international competition all season.

This week there are two qualifying groups of Ladies, and two of Men.  The Men go on Wednesday and the Ladies Friday.  Twenty four will advance to the final round.  Using a complex formula, the highest seeded skaters will compete in the last warm-up of each qualifying group.  The same judges will judge both groups each day.

Weather here is a heck of a lot better than for the Northeastern U.S.  Clear skies, moderate temperatures, and spring is in the air.  Not in the air were Alissa Czisny and Emily Hughes who were delayed by winter storms.  They will arrive here Tuesday afternoon, in the process missing all the practices on the competition ice.  Evan Lysacek arrived from Los Angeles late Sunday afternoon.  Hope these skaters know what they are doing, leaving just two and one-half days to recover from jet lag.  I will probably catch up just about in time to leave next morning,  Seventeen hours door to door to get here from Los Angeles.

Google Earth view of Metropolitan Gymnasium

Arena is so so small, just like my hotel room.  Official number for seating capacity is 6779, but quite a large number of seats have been knocked out for official use (officials podium, broadcasters, media, etc.), so actual capacity is probably a lot less -- though no one here seems to know what it is.  I would love to tell you about the arena, but I can't.  The lepers are not allowed out of their colony.  We are not allowed access to the seating area, and we are not allowed onto the concourse.  We can't event get in the front door.  But if I manage to slip through enemy lines this week I will bring back a report.

The Men practiced on the competition ice this afternoon (there are two other practice ice surfaces).  The skaters have the choice of running through their long program or short program.  For the US men. Ryan had an OK practice.  He was all business, nothing outstanding, nothing to be worried about.  For his run through he did his short program.  Evan Lysacek fell on quad toe loop and triple Axel in his long program run through.  He also doubled a triple loop.  For the remainder of the practice he had a serious workout under Frank Carroll's direction.  Johnny Weir ran through his long program.  It sounded like a new cut of his previous music, and superior to the cut at Nationals.  He didn't try the quad toe loop in the run through, but attempted one elsewhere  during the practice which was two footed.  He didn't do the full program and after his turn to do his program his activities looked like so much meandering around the ice.  From what I saw there appears to be some new choreography to go with the new cut of the music.  But it may be too little too late.  He did not look to me like the "man on a mission" he needs to be.

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